A Strategy for Teaching the Mid-East
During the period of the Cold War, interest in the Mid-East on the part of US scholars revolved around the area's utility for the West. The capacity of specialists to teach this subject adequately was conditioned by the educator's own training and intellectual background, as well as, the availability of resource material in the English language. The orientalist slant on this discipline produced scholars who were focused on the unsuitability of the area for democratic development and the perceived authoritarian nature of its political culture. Some of these perspectives grew out of the Developmentalist school of scholars such as Walt Rostow, Seymour Lipset and Gabriel Almonds. Native ideologies were not taken seriously, the presence of ancient civil society was ignored, and the capacity of old institutions to modernize was minimized. We need new strategies such as teaching Islam as part of these courses, emphasizing the political sociology of the region and examining the international context.
Keywords: The Need to Reject Old Strategies, Emphasis on Islam, Emphasis on Political Sociology, Native Ideologies to be Taken Seriously, Due Regard to the International Context
Prof Ghada Talhami
D.K. Pearsons Professor of Politics, Department of Politics, Lake Forest College